Police in Somalia's capital said at least 20 people have been killed by gunmen who stormed into a popular seaside restaurant and took siege of the eatery.
The militant group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Lido Beach View Hotel in Mogadishu.
Somali police officer Mohamed Abdirahman said Friday the assault was a "barbaric and brutal attack against innocent civilians."
The assailants attacked the restaurant Thursday evening, setting off explosions and firing on guests.
A top Somali intelligence official told VOA's Somali service that security forces flushed the militants from the building and captured the leader of the gunmen.
A journalist inside the restaurant during the siege Thursday told VOA by phone that he and more than 20 other people were trapped.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack through a pro-militant radio station in the capital. A spokesman for the group said, "We are inside and control the hotel. Our operation was successful."
Mohamud Hared, the owner of the nearby Indian Ocean Restaurant, told VOA's Somali service that he heard gunfire and two separate explosions.
“We heard a heavy gunfire and then explosion followed, gunfire ensued again for 15 minutes and then explosions," Hared said.
Abdulkadir Mohamed Somow, who survived the attack, said, "I was intending to go out, but suddenly we heard a heavy explosion, followed by gunfire. When I look back, I saw a militant fighter shooting indiscriminately at everybody. Then I locked myself inside a room until we were evacuated peacefully by the security forces."